It may be a June bank holiday and it may be pouring with rain outside but as we head to the peak of the holiday season in the Brecon Beacons the thought of wild camping comes to mind. Getting out onto the mountains and hills for a couple of days and nights away from the hustle and bustle of life can be really inviting.
One thing to remember is that while Scotland has a much more progressive land access policy in England and Wales it is not permitted to camp anywhere you like. You need the land owners permission to camp otherwise you are committing trespass. This is generally a civil matter rather than a criminal one though if the police really wanted to pursue and issue they could theoretically go with criminal damage if you have used tent pegs in the ground but that’s highly unlikely to happen.
That said if you are a genuine wild camper then you could find the Brecon Beacons a generally good place to come to. If you take care and abide by the backpackers code then you should be able to get away with a bit of wild camping and not get into too much trouble.
The key things to remember when wild camping is to :
Camp high and remote – if you look to camp high on the mountains above the pastures and way from farms then you are much more likely to have an undisturbed night. That said the Forestry Commission in Wales tends to be a bit more tolerant of wild campers than their colleagues in England – provided you don’t light a fire.
Don’t use a fire – there’s nothing like a column of smoke to attract attention. Parts of the Brecon Beacons can become tinder-dry during the summer and wild fires are easily started. Stick to using camping stoves and take care of them.
Don’t leave litter - Don’t leave litter or any other sign of you being at a location when you pack up and go.
Think about your toileting arrangements – take a trowel or spade and bury solids. Women should take their sanitary towels and tampons with them. Don’t bury them as they will be dug up by wildlife attracted by the scent.
Arrive late and leave early – don’t set camp until late in the day and make sure you’re up and packed away early.
Blend in – try not to spoil the view with brightly coloured and garish tents, it will draw attention to you.
Take plenty of water – you’ll need to take enough water to see you through you overnight stop and until you can reload your containers. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll use as you hike up the mountains with a heavy backpack.
Keep it small – you are less likely to be noticed or moved on if there is only one or two small tents. Having a party or a rave on the mountains is NOT wild camping.
One thing to remember is the while you may have access rights to walk across land under Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 – the right to roam – it does not give you the right to camp. If you are asked to move on then do so.
If you want to have the wild experience of camping at sites that are undeveloped and private without the worry of being moved on then the Brecon Beacons National Park have a leaflet available you can download that details farms in the Brecon Beacons that offer camping on their land.
Brecon Beacons farm camping leaflet (pdf download).
Hopefully the Welsh Assembly government will follow the lead of the Scottish government at some time in the future and bring in a law to allow wild camping but until that happens just use a bit of common sense when you’re out wild camping in the Brecon Beacons.